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Honors To The Association And Members

Association Honored by National Society
Rolf Beier and Florence Beier - Couple's long road to peace and love
Mary Gilliland Receives AAFCS Distinguished Service Award
Janiece Nolan Receives the Distinguished Leadership Award
Eno Schmidt receives Cupertino CREST Award
Marie Wolbach created network of STEM camps for girls
  • Palo Alto’s Wolbach Gives Girls A Lift Into STEM Fields

    Kiwanis Gives Its Angel Award To Woman Who Created Network Of STEM Camps For Girls

    Eighth graders and Wolbach

    Rising eighth-graders, left, work on a project during this summer’s Camp Grace Hopper at Stanford, where the Tech Trek program originated in 1998 with an assist from Palo Alto’s Marie Wolbach, right. Wolbach started the program that has expanded to 22 camps this summer and has touched more than 15,000 girls. (Photos courtesy of the American Association of University Women, left, and Judy Kramer of the Palo Alto Kiwanis Club). This article is abstracted from

    The dearth of women working in STEM fields is a hot issue these days.

    Marie Wolbach was way ahead of the curve.

    Wolbach got the ball rolling locally in 1998, when she successfully applied for a grant from the American Association of University Women and started a summer science camp for girls.

    “When I was writing the grant proposal, I could not use the word STEM because nobody knew what it meant 20 years ago,” said Wolbach, who has lived in South Palo Alto for 34 years. “There were many people who said, ‘What’s the value of science camp for girls? Who would want to go to that.’ ”

    Since then, Wolbach has overseen the program’s expansion nationally, teaching some 15,000 rising eighth-graders in science, technology, math and more. The program now known as Tech Trek has grown to 22 one-week camps in 10 states this summer, including two at Stanford University.

    For her efforts, Wolbach was named the 2017 winner of the Angel Award bestowed by the Palo Alto Kiwanis Club for significant impact on youths.

    “Marie Wolbach has single-handedly made this world a far better place by opening the eyes and minds of girls to the power of mathematic and science education,” LaDoris Cordell, a retired Superior Court judge and former assistant dean of the Stanford Law School, wrote in recommending Wolbach for the Kiwanis award.

    Tech Trek is empowering girls to go to college and explore opportunities once deemed unsuitable for them. Wolbach sees that empowerment reflected in how the girls think.

    “I’ve noticed the girls that come to camp have changed,” Wolbach said. “We’re seeing maturity and awareness increase in the girls, so that when we see them at 12 and 13 many are focused on what they want to do and how they’re going to get there. And when they first came, there was not nearly so much of that.

    “I am optimistic. The results are really quite amazing.”

    All students attend the camps on scholarships from the AAUW. They must be nominated by their math or science teacher, then impress judges with an essay and during an interview.

    AAUW research shows that Tech Trek alumnae are less susceptible to negative stereotypes about women in STEM, surpass the national average in advanced high school math and science courses, and have been introduced to STEM careers that were previously unknown to them.

    Camp days begin with morning core classes. The afternoons tend to be project-based and might include a field trip to a tech company or work in robotics, app invention, nanotechnology or forensics led by professional mentors.

    In the evenings, there are other lessons related to science or the girls’ future, which can include learning about how to pay for college, as well as visits from women professionals who tell about their careers in science or fields related to science.

    Stanford grad student Nora Jane Brackenbill is among the former Tech Trek campers who have returned to the camps as volunteers.

    “At Tech Trek, not only did I meet inspiring women in a variety of STEM careers, I also met other girls my age who were interested in science,” Brackenbill said in a news release from the Kiwanis Club. “For the first time, I could envision a future for myself and for my fellow campers in the scientific community.”

    The AAUW’s decision to hold the camps on university campuses brought an added benefit: It helps girls picture themselves going to college.

    “Partly because we have the diversity of girls, many had never been on a college campus,” Wolbach said, “and many would write on their evaluations, ‘I never thought about going to college before, but this is beautiful and wonderful. I’m definitely going to college now.’ ”

    All of the camp courses and labs are hands-on, group learning, no homework, no grading, no criticism.

    “It is fun, but at the same time, they learn a lot,” Wolbach said.

    It didn’t take long for Wolbach to realize the impact the camps can have. In the first or second year, a girl wrote her a letter and said that when she got back home she went to math class and moved from the back of the room with the girls to the front of the room with the boys and didn’t hesitate to raise her hand if she knew the answer.

    “That’s because of Tech Trek,” Wolbach said.

    Wolbach recalled a very quiet girl from Sacramento who was driven to Stanford by an AAUW volunteer because her immigrant parents did not drive. She was so quiet that other girls in her dorm group worried about her. By the end of the week, she found Wolbach in a group of maybe 400 people and said, “I wish I could stay another week because this was the best week of my life,” then gave Wolbach a big hug.

    The quiet girl went back home and ran for class president — and won.

    For Wolbach, the program’s success brings much gratification and gives her hope that things will be better than they were years ago.

    She became interested in science as a kid, working with her father in his pharmacy.

    In high school, Wolbach was the only girl in physics class, gaining admission only by convincing the principal that she really wanted to take the course.

    In 1970, with a nursing background, Wolbach wanted to apply for a physician’s assistant program at the University of Utah.

    “They wouldn’t take my application because I was female,” she said.

    Years later, while raising seven children, Wolbach was moved to action after one of her daughters was teased a lot in high school for taking many AP classes and for raising her hand in AP physics and doing well on tests.

    “I was aware that things were changing a little bit, but I really wasn’t so invested in this until (then),” she said. “I realized that, OK, we’re 25 years later and things aren’t changing. Maybe something should be done.”

    Raising a family and working part-time precluded her from taking action, then in 1991 she was motivated by an AAUW study titled “Shortchanging Girls, Shortchanging America,” which focused on the way girls perceive being in math and sciences and how they drop out around middle-school age despite often being among the best in those classes.

    “They didn’t have the confidence they could have. They were told, ‘Oh, these are hard classes,’ they take maybe more homework, and they’d rather be doing something with their friends and they got discouraged. All of the factors were in that report that I could relate to, that we were observing around us even in 1992.”

    The Kiwanis Club award comes with a $1,500 prize that will help fund the camps. Wolbach will receive the honor in an Oct. 19 ceremony at the Sheraton Palo Alto.

    See pictures from Tech Trek Sonoma 2016 here

    See also


    Association Honored By National Society

    Our Association received a significant honor at the concluding banquet of the Triennial in Seattle Aug. 6-10, 2003. The award included a check for $1000 that we may use for either our endowment or scholarship fund. We also received the certificate pictured below.

    The wording on the Certificate of Recognition is:

    "The Senate of the Phi Beta Kappa Society on the recommendation of the Committee on Associations honors the Northern California Association for excellence in representing the ideals and commitments of Phi Beta Kappa during the 2000 –2003 triennium.* Presented at the 40th Triennial Council meeting August 6-10, 2003".

    (Signed by Joseph W. Gordon, President and John Churchill, Secretary)

    *From the Key Reporter, Fall 2003, issue: "...among its accomplishments were presenting 15 speakers and other events in the past year; organizing an annual retreat at (Asilomar) State Conference Center, presenting honoraria for teaching excellence to four area professors; awarding scholarships to nine graduate students at area institutions; and producing a newsletter and website." Our President, Mary Hanel is shown receiving the award.

    Large PBK Award Certificate text honors the Northern California Association for excellence in representing the ideals and commitments of Phi Beta Kappa during the 2000-2003 triennium. Presented at the 40th Triennial Council meeting August 6-10, 2003

  • Mary Gilliland Receives AAFCS Distinguished Service Award

    Gilliland AAFCS Distinguished Service Award

    AAFCS 2016-17 President Duane A. Whitbeck, Ph.D., (left) presents Mary Turner Gilliland (right) with the AAFCS Distinguished Service Award during the AAFCS 108th Annual Conference in Dallas, Texas.

    Gilliland Receives AAFCS Distinguished Service Award

    Alexandria, VA–The American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) honored its 2017 Distinguished Service Award recipients at a ceremony during the 108th Annual Conference & Expo in Dallas, Texas. Among those selected for the prestigious award is Mary Turner Gilliland, a long-time AAFCS member who has made a positive impact on family and consumer sciences in the U.S. and abroad.

    Mary Turner Gilliland has been a member of AAFCS continuously for more than 48 years, serving throughout that tenure at the local, district, state, national, and international levels. As a student at the University of California at Santa Barbara, she chaired her student chapter of California AHEA (now AAFCS). Post-graduation, she has served the California Affiliate in many capacities, including treasurer. At the national level of AAFCS, she offered consistency as a Senate delegate from 1985-2005, and provided leadership on the global nature of the family and consumer sciences field as the leader of the Community of Global Perspectives from 2008-2011.                                                                      Gilliland has been a voice for family and consumer sciences worldwide, having visited 80 countries and all seven continents. Gilliland has been on the board of the Phi Beta Kappa Northern California Association since 2001: 10 years as Treasurer and (so far) 7 years as President. She's also involved with several textile museums in the United States and one in Canada; her volunteer service includes serving as an advisory board member for the Colonial Williamsburg Art Museums and Board President for the San Jose (CA) Museum of Quilts and Textiles, the first quilt museum in the US.. She has a special spot in her heart to provide scholarships and textile exhibits that provide learning opportunities for students. Gilliland's participation in dozens of International Federation of for Home Economics (IFHE) events illustrates her dedication to family and consumer sciences abroad; her use of her home economics degree in a non-traditional way promotes the diversity of our profession, giving new meaning to the phrase “volunteer extraordinaire.”

    More About the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (AAFCS)

    Rolf Beier And Florence Beier -Couple's Long Road To Peace And Love

    Rolf Beier and Florence BeierDedicated peace activists, they are members of the Beyond War movement, and also participated in an Israel and Palestinian peace group. Rolf was a German soldier, and Florence is Jewish. Louise Rafkin, Special to The Chronicle Sunday, February 27, 2011.

    Rolf Beier and Florence Beier relaxing at home in San Mateo, Calif., on Thursday, February 3, 2011. Dedicated peace activists, they are members of the Beyond War movement, and also participated in an Israel and Palestinian peace group. Rolf was a German soldier, and Florence is Jewish.Photo: Liz Hafalia / The Chronicle

    It was the summer of 1948 and Florence Ilfeld, then 19, was visiting her family in Taos, N.M., before her second year of college at Stanford. The Ilfelds, a well-established pioneer family that had settled there in the 1880s, were unusual. Unlike most Western pioneers, they were Jewish, though not particularly religious.

    Meanwhile, Rolf Beier, then 25, was studying geology in his native Germany. A former member of Hitler Youth, he'd been drafted by the Nazis in 1942. Wounded several times, while fighting on the Russian front, he'd also been imprisoned in France for more than a year.

    After returning home postwar, he saw American volunteers - Quakers - doing relief work. "What gives?" he thought. "They were my enemy and now they are helping us?" He volunteered to help alongside them.

    The same Quakers were organizing a summer camp in New Mexico to bring together youth from many countries on both sides. From hundreds of German applicants, Rolf and seven others were chosen to participate. Florence was also attending.

    "When I arrived, it was like, 'Here comes the German soldier,' " Rolf says. But in the atmosphere of peacemaking and reconciliation - and listening - the group was soon all hugs and kisses.

    Especially he and Florence. "Rolf was the skinniest man I'd ever seen," says Florence, who was immediately intrigued. Rolf, who had been influenced to think of American women as superficial, was impressed by Florence's all-around qualities: She could knit, ride a horse and ski well, and was whip smart. By the end of summer, they were a couple.

    Both families were immediately supportive. "It was not a battle," Florence says, smiling. "We're both very nice people."

    Rolf stayed in the states for college in Southern California, and the two exchanged daily missives. By winter break, they were engaged. Married that September in Taos, Rolf transferred to Stanford, where he assisted teaching geology. Florence was in his section of class.

    "The other girls speculated on whether the cute German guy was married," Florence remembers. "I eventually confessed that he was my husband."

    Rolf's career in oil and plastics took their growing family to sojourn in many states and several European countries. Florence raised three children while working as a journalist and in public relations. Landing in San Mateo 31 years ago, the two have always been dedicated peace activists. Members of the Beyond War movement, they also participated in an Israel and Palestinian peace group. While Florence is a mediator for the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center, Rolf often speaks at schools and community groups. He recently told his story to a class learning about the Holocaust.

    In 2000, Rolf converted to Judaism, and he and Florence are now active in their temple.

    "After World War II, I thought people would see the futility of war," says Rolf, now 87. He shakes his head. "I'm disappointed."

    Florence, now 81, agrees. "That's a good word: disappointed."

    On understanding peace:

    Rolf: "Humanity has yet to realize that fighting doesn't advance anything."

    Florence: "Every bit of peace you can put in the world helps."

    This article appeared on page E - 2 of the San Francisco Chronicle

    Louise Rafkin, Special to The ChronicleSunday, February 27, 2011

    Read more:

  • Eno Schmidt

    Eno Schmidt Receives Cupertino CREST Award

    In addition, Eno is the President of the Cupertino Library Foundation. For his work there he has been a recipient of Cupertino's CREST award. The CREST award stands for Cupertino Recognizes Extra Steps Taken. Every year the City of Cupertino gives their CREST Award to outstanding community volunteers. These individuals or groups have been nominated by their peers who recognize their contribution to the quality of life in Cupertino. Among those honored this year was Eno Schmidt.

    Eno has taken the extra steps to enhance the quality and presence of the Library Foundation, the Cupertino Library and their services to the Cupertino community. He has forged a collaborative relationship with the Rotary Club of Cupertino which resulted in the Cupertino Library Foundation being named the beneficiary of the 2009 Rotary Golf Classic-ensuring a $25,000 grant for the planned Teen Room enhancement. Eno has worked tirelessly at leading the foundation and being willing to do the “small” and necessary tasks to get the job done. He has just been honored by receiving the 2009 CREST Award.

  • Janiece Nolan

    Janiece Nolan Receives The Distinguished Leadership Award


    Janiece Nolan, Ph.D. named to the Contra Costa Commission for Women's Ninth Annual Hall of Fame

    The Graduate Program in Health Management Alumni Association at UC Berkeley has just named Janiece S. Nolan, Ph.D., (former Chapter Liaison Chair) for the Distinguished Leadership Award, recognizing :

    Her role in establishing a regional trauma center in Contra Costa CountyHer leadership in establishing the CalStar Medical Helicopter SystemHer recruitment of over 50 physicians to the East Bay areaHer development of an East Bay network of 800 physicians at John Muir Health

    The award was presented at the Haas School of Business on February 24, 2009.

    Janiece Nolan, Ph.D. Named To The Contra Costa Commission For Women's Ninth Annual Hall Of Fame

    Janiece Nolan, Ph.D., former Chapter Liaison Chair of PBKNCA, has been named to the Contra Costa Commission for Women's Ninth Annual Hall of Fame in the category "Women Demonstrating Leadership". Dr. Nolan is President/CEO John Muir Physician Network. Her definition of leadership is "I taught leadership courses in the Naval reserve, and the thing we impressed upon people is that your leadership needs to be strong enough that your sailors are ready to die for you".

    See "A conversation with Janiece Nolan of John Muir Physician Network" in the East Bay Business Times for more information about her, and also the Contra Coasta Commission for Women's website.

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